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Brownback Administration Unveils $63 Million In Budget Adjustments

Dave Ranney
Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration on Thursday announced $63 million in changes to the state budget.

Much of that comes from increases in federal aid, cost-cutting measures and some services costing less than initially projected. Brownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, outlined in a Statehouse news conference.

The biggest single change — $17.6 million — comes from the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which provides health coverage to children in low-income families.

The federal government is increasing its CHIP match rate from 70 percent to 92 percent for the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years. Although the state could use the $17.6 million to expand CHIP, the administration chose to move that amount into the State General Fund, Sullivan said.

Sullivan said he doesn’t expect any of the budget changes to lead to employee layoffs or cuts in social services.

“What we tried to do was minimize the impact on services,” he said. “When we’re doing that, we’re going to look for things, as a first order of business, where there’s money that wasn’t spent or where there’s excess balances.”

The plan transfers $8 million from the Kansas Department of Transportation, funds that are available because of efficiencies and some lower-than-expected costs. Sullivan said the transfer won’t affect the state’s 10-year transportation project, T-WORKS.

The state also captured savings from smaller-than-expected retirement costs for teachers in Kansas.

Here’s a look at other reductions and transfers affecting health and social services:

Kansas Department of Health and Environment

  • $4 million reduction due to lower-than-expected expenditures from a hospital-funded account that’s used to leverage federal Medicaid funds.

Kansas Department for Children and Families

Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services

  • $500,000 saved by delaying for six months the reopening of the Meyer Building on the Larned State Hospital campus. The building, which will house patients in hospital’s Sexual Predator Treatment Program, had been scheduled to open January 2016.
  • $1 million reduction due to last year’s payments to “payroll agents” who help people with disabilities find, train and pay attendant care workers coming in below estimates.
  • $1 million reduction due to elimination of the state’s waiting list for Medicaid-funded in-home services for people with physical disabilities (PD) not costing as much as initially projected.

Angela de Rocha, a KDADS spokesperson, said the department was “very pleased” it was able to find ways to reduce spending “without having any impact on services we provide our consumers.”
Earlier Thursday, KDADS announced that it expects to eliminate the so-called PD waiting list by the end of November.

“This is a very big deal,” de Rocha said.

The budget changes are part of the Legislature’s final budget bill, which ordered the governor to find $50 million in cuts

The additional reductions will boost the state’s savings account to help avert a deficit if tax collections come in lower projected.

Stephen Koranda is the Statehouse Bureau Chief for Kansas Public Radio.

Dave Ranney is a reporter for KHI News Service in Topeka, a partner in the Heartland Health Monitor team.

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